If the Guinness book of record should be enlarged to accommodate Banks who are proficient in defrauding customers and States who have become hosts to their operations in Nigeria, Unity Bank Plc under the leadership of Mrs Oluwatomi Somefun will emerge undisputed as the winner following several sanctions on the bank by both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018 to the tune of N7 million Naira as penalty for reporting deficiencies in the 2015/2016 annual report and for excess charges and interest on customers.
Unsurprisingly, Four (4) of its branches were amongst several other banks closed down in 2017 by the Nassarawa State Board of Internal Revenue following their callous suppression of IGR and inability to turn over tax generated from the state for years.
Information obtained by this online news medium revealed that on December 29, 2016, Ori Adeyemo and Co; a Forensic Accounting Consultancy firm based in Lagos and introduced to the Nasarawa State government by one Mr Charles Osuji and Mr Edmond Ogbonna was engaged by the Nasarawa State Board of Internal Revenue to assist in the improvement of Internally-Generated-Revenue (IGR) base of excess bank charges, high network individuals, withholding tax on dividends and interest and deposits against banks operating in the State from 29/05/1999.
The forensic firm in discharging their duties discovered that Oluwatomi Somefun led Unity Bank had with expertise defrauded the government of a jaw-dropping N305,011,989 (Three Hundred and Five Million Eleven Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-Nine Naira) in unremitted tax to the from 29th May 1999 to 31st December 2017.
An action that is a contravention of Section 104 of the Personal Income Tax Act which empowers banks to stand as an agent enabled by law to remit money to the state government from the customers in the bank who are the taxpayers.
A source in the revenue board opined that the bank which announced a total asset value of about US$2.45 Billion (N39 Billion) as at December 2012, may have succeeded in cunningly defrauding other state governments which have enabled them to build such capacity within the period.